5 Alternatives to Alcoholics Anonymous

Contrary to popular belief, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not the only program which helps facilitate sobriety. In fact, there are many programs which promote effective alcohol and drug abuse treatment. Rather than automatically settling into AA, those struggling with a substance use disorder should utilize the recovery pathway most beneficial for them. To find that program which works best, one may need to try a few different systems.


Below we share five alternatives to AA:


1) LifeRing Secular Recovery

The principle belief of LifeRing is that the power to overcome addiction lies within the person. Using their strong worldwide membership, they facilitate empowering peer-to-peer support through online and in-person meetings. They offer their service in the United States, Canada, and several other countries.



2) Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist pathway to addiction recovery founded by Noah Levine, an American Buddhist teacher and author who holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology. The core teachings are the Four Truths, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, and Heart Practice Meditations. Refuge Recovery places an emphasis on the role of empathy and knowledge in overcoming addiction and its causes. The program offers meetings across the United States.



3) Women for Sobriety

As is made clear by its name, Women for Sobriety (WFS) is a women-focused organization dedicated to helping women overcome addiction, tailoring their work towards the unique needs women have in recovery. Specifically, they emphasize the need to nurture self-worth. To achieve this, they guide women in developing coping skills to improve self-esteem, spiritual growth, and a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps most notably, the program focuses on a 13 statement “Acceptance Program”. Following these statements provide women with a new way of living via a new way of thinking.



4) SMART Recovery

Boasting an international community of science-based mutual help groups, SMART Recovery is a dynamic, self-empowering addiction recovery support system. The SMART Recovery 4-point program helps people recover from substance misuse, sex addiction, and gambling addiction among many others. In addition to the daily face-to-face and online meeting offerings, SMART has an interactive message board and 24/7 chat room.


Two of the program’s notable goals are to teach techniques for self-directed change and support the scientifically informed use of psychological treatments and legally prescribed medication. In this vein, in order to offer their members the best support possible, they strive to evolve with new scientific research as it becomes available. Their 4-point system covers: building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges, managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and living a balanced life.



5) Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a not-for-profit network dedicated to helping people achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol, drug, food, and other addictions. Unlike many substance abuse treatment programs, SOS does not have a focus on spirituality. Instead, it emphasizes rational decision making and recognizes genetic and environmental factors that contribute to addiction.


Also contrary to other programs, SOS does not push for sponsor-based relationships. Rather, they prefer their members exhibit as much freedom as possible. In this spirit of loose regulations, their meetings follow what they call “suggested guidelines for sobriety.” Embedded in these suggestions are for members to follow a daily, three-part “Cycle of Sobriety”. This “Cycle” consists of acknowledgment of one’s addiction, acceptance of one’s addiction, and maintaining sobriety.



Putting it All Together

These five programs just scratch the surface of the recovery opportunities available in addition to the well-known AA program. For various reasons, AA’s 12 step program turns many potential users off. It is imperative to know that if you are one of these people, there are many alternative proven programs. It doesn’t matter how you get to a healthy, sober, and happy life. What matters is that you get there.




Please click here to read other pieces pertaining to addiction



Latest posts by Kelly Fitzgerald (see all)

Share your thoughts